July 14, 2006
Unless you've spent the last 15 years living on a deserted island, it's hard to miss the SUV revolution. They're everywhere you look today, produced by nearly every major manufacturer selling passenger vehicles in North America. Of course, sport utility vehicles have been around for many years, and in the early days were used exclusively by those "rugged outdoor types" for their utility to haul, crawl off-road, and still be able to drive you to town for the weekly shopping trip. As time progressed, the functional SUV became fashionable among more mainstream drivers for its rugged style and functionality, eventually leading to a whole range of on-road styling options for what was once designed for off-road use.
More recently as vehicle styling has matured, on-road performance and handling have become the engineering focus, with traditional truck-like ride and handling giving way to uni-body chassis designs and near-sports car performance. Today, you can buy SUVs off the showroom floor capable of performance car acceleration, braking and cornering. A variety of aftermarket vehicle tuners are finding ways to squeeze even more speed and performance from these SUVs, making some among the fastest vehicles on the road today.
To stay ahead of the curve, several tire manufacturers have recently released Street/Sport Truck tires designed to tune the handling and high-speed needs of today's performance-oriented SUVs. Yokohama has developed the ADVAN S.T., described as the world's fastest SUV tire with W- or Y-speed ratings in all sizes and capable of speeds 168 mph or up to 186 mph. Bridgestone has released their Dueler H/P Sport, which is pattered after the Potenza RE050A family of Max Performance Summer tires that are Original Equipment on the most exotic performance cars available today.
To get a better understanding of how these new tires perform, Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive, comparing the Bridgestone and Yokohama tires to a popular option in the category, the Pirelli Scorpion Zero. Our evaluation used three identically equipped 2006 Porsche Cayenne SUVs with the factory steel spring suspension, fitted with new, full tread depth 235/65R17 tires mounted on 17x7.5" wheels.
Our 5.6-mile loop of expressway, state highway and county roads provides a great variety of road conditions that include city and highway speeds, smooth and coarse concrete, as well as new and patched asphalt. This route allows our team to experience noise comfort, ride quality and everyday handling, just as you would during your drive to school or work.
All three tires offered appropriate ride quality for the Street/Sport Truck category. With a definite emphasis on the sport side of the equation, this group felt firm but not harsh driving over the bumpy sections of our test route. The Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport was found to have a slight advantage over the Pirelli Scorpion Zero, while the Yokohama ADVAN S.T. felt a little harsher riding than the other two.
The aggressive tread patterns of these tires did produce some small amounts of noise, but all within acceptable levels. Our team found the Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport generated the lowest level of tread noise, followed by the Pirelli Scorpion Zero and Yokohama ADVAN S.T. which both produced a subtle growl at various speeds. The Dueler H/P Sport also did a good job absorbing the bumps and sharper impacts, while the Scorpion Zero and Avid S.T. both felt a bit firmer when driven over the same rough sections of our route.
The Yokohama ADVAN S.T.'s firmer ride paid back with nimble handling, feeling almost edgy with its quick response to initial steering input. The Dueler H/P Sport also handled well, displaying a solid feel and balanced handling. The Pirelli Scorpion Zero was a close third, with slightly slower steering response and less-precise handling than the other two, likely due in part to its more open tread pattern and all-season oriented tread rubber compound.
Our 1/3-mile per lap test track course includes 90-degree street corners, lane changes and simulated expressway ramps. Run in both dry and wet conditions, the test track allows our team to experience the traction, responsiveness, handling and drivability normally only encountered during abrupt emergency avoidance maneuvers or competition events.
All three tires allowed our Porsche Cayenne test vehicles to drive the course in a very "performance car-like" manner. But surprisingly, the numeric data did not exactly match the subjective scores during dry conditions.
The Yokohama ADVAN S.T. was able to lap our course the fastest, feeling responsive, displaying good overall dry grip with just a hint of gentle understeer when pressed hard in the corners. The Pirelli Scorpion Zero felt the least precise of the group, resulting in the largest slip angles of the group that allowed the vehicle to slide as it was cornering at the limit. This may have proven to free up the Porsche Cayenne, ultimately resulting in an average lap time that was virtually identical to the more stable-feeling Yokohama. In a close third spot was the Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport. Here, the tire felt more stable than the Pirelli and did not have the gentle understeer of the Yokohama. But when the data was tabulated it just did not appear to have quite as much ultimate grip as the Yokohama.
In wet conditions, the subjective and objective differences were more easily detected. The Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport displayed a clear advantage in overall wet grip, posting the fastest average lap time and allowing our team to navigate the slalom section and circle the skid pad faster than with the other two tires. Close behind was the Yokohama ADVAN S.T. feeling as if it had slightly less overall wet grip than the Bridgestone. Our wet track conditions are not designed to test hydroplaning resistance, and therefore we did not get the opportunity to evaluate any benefits to the ADVAN S.T.'s aggressive directional tread pattern. The Pirelli Scorpion Zero and its all-season tread pattern and compound may have contributed to this tire's third-place finish. It just did not have the level of grip of the other two tires, resulting in plenty of understeer and early engagement of the ABS during hard braking.
Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport (Street/Sport Truck Summer): The Dueler H/P Sport is a Street/Sport Truck Summer tire member of Bridgestone's Dueler family of light truck tires. The Dueler H/P Sport was developed for the drivers of sport utility vehicles and performance pickups. The Dueler H/P Sport is designed to deliver predictable handling, traction and control on dry and wet roads. The Dueler H/P Sport is not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.
Pirelli Scorpion Zero (Street/Sport Truck All-Season): Derived from Pirelli's legendary P Zero performance tires, the Scorpion Zero is a Street/Sport Truck All-Season tire for sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks. The Scorpion Zero was designed to provide year round traction and handling for drivers who operate their light truck vehicles primarily on-road in various weather conditions, including very occasional light snow. Read more.
Yokohama ADVAN S.T. (Street/Sport Truck Summer): The ADVAN S.T. is Yokohama's Street/Sport Truck Summer tire developed to deliver a balance of high-speed capability, handling and comfort required by new-generation performance SUVs. The ADVAN S.T. is designed to add a new dimension to SUV performance that boosts driving pleasure, high-speed capability and traction on dry and wet roads. Like all summer tires, the ADVAN S.T. is not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.
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